31 May, 2010
A couple of months ago I came across a recommendation for an online book seller The Book Depository, located in the UK. The thing that really caught my eye was the "free shipping worldwide" because as anyone who has ever tried to buy from Amazon from outside the US knows, shipping is often more than the book you want! I had a look at their prices compared to our own local online bookseller Fishpond and I was stunned. The first book I had a look at was Martha Stewart's latest Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts which I'd seen reviewed about the place a lot at the time and found it for just under $50 NZ. On Fishpond it's $75.99. The same price differences applied to pretty much every single book I checked out and I was floored. Really it seemed too good to be true, but the recommendation had come from a reputable blogger (whose name I've since forgotten!) so I didn't dismiss it right away. But really I still wonder why the price difference? I feel a bit guilty ordering from the UK when I feel I should be supporting the local act, but with that kind of price difference it's hard to. I wonder if there's something I don't know, something I should be taking into account that would sway things the other way? Or are the local book sellers just robbing us blind? All morality aside, Mat and Hazel gave me a pre-loaded Visa card for my birthday so I went for it:
I'm sure I'll be 'reviewing' these books in the near future! The books arrived really promptly, though all separately packaged which seems a bit odd. Still, no complaints on my part so I can thoroughly recommend The Book Depository!
and for Hazel:
The Moomintroll books are a bit old for her ("when's the next picture?" she says) but she actually seems to quite enjoy them despite that. I just couldn't resist getting them and hope she enjoys them as much as I did/do! When I was in Sweden in 2007 I spotted a very cute little Moomin apron in a shop window and had to have it. She was just turned two at the time, and looking at this photo I just want to kiss those little cherub lips! She was happy about the apron and the Klippan felted wool bag but a bit unsure about her mummy being home after 3 weeks!
There are even a few roses bravely flowering on, it's been a very warm May so I shouldn't be too surprised I suppose!
30 May, 2010
And here is her toy
She really likes and refers to it as "me".
29 May, 2010
I just about died when I opened them up, not just because they've got cute little eyes, or slightly madly wonky ears, or because they're soft and touchable - but because they've got the BEST fluffy tails.
They've been a huge hit in the house, even going so far as to be spotted in a manly Swandri pocket
Mat would probably like me to point out that it's a vintage Swannie that he found for TEN DOLLARS at the
28 May, 2010
The booties are the ones from Handmade Beginnings, the bunny is a Mooshie Belly Bunny from the Chez Beeper Bebe tutorial
I loved making the little pompom tail, so cute! Actually the whole bunny is madly cute, Hazel is dying for one of her own - in pink naturally, and even Mat's been spotted cuddling him.
The hat is from another Chez Beeper Bebe tutorial, this one's the Bat Baby hat and the tutorial comes with some wonderful little toys as well. It's lined with the same sherpa as the slippers.
I'm off for the weekend but have some posts scheduled for while I'm away, and of course the drawing for the Handmade Beginnings book on Monday!
27 May, 2010
H: The first thing that always strikes me when I see your projects is your fabulous use of colour and pattern. When I set out to combine colours and patterns, no matter how hard I try, I always seem to default to the safe and conventional. Do you have any advice for those of us who are a bit challenged in this regard?
AMH: Well, outside of the obvious process of first laying colors together side by side as swatches, there are a few tricks that I like to use. One is let every main color in the palette have two versions of itself. For instance if you have blue, orange, and lavender in your palette (which sounds totally weirdo, huh?) make sure there are two versions of each. Two blues, Two oranges, Two Lavenders. The two versions of blue might come in the form of one being mroe royal, and one being more tourquoise. The two versions of orage might be one bright orange and the other rust. The two versions of lavender might be one dusty grey lavender and the otehr deeper purple. So in other words, the difference between the two shades might be in lightness, intensity or murkiness. But providing both shades in one palette sets it on the ground and gives one color something to refer to and sort of keeps the peace.
H: The Dad Bag was a bit of a surprise to me which made me realise that guys seem to get the short end of the stick when it comes to sewing for a new baby. You mentioned in a recent blog post that your husband swore he'd never use it - even though he does, do you think that's the typical reaction of men to sewing which is why there's a dearth of projects intended for them? Or do women just tend to sew for themselves?
AMH: I think yes to both might be the case! If I were to sew something for my husband in secret then offer it to him under the guise of having BOUGHT it for him, he would likely say, oh wow, thanks! Right? I do imagine that most men equate a sewn item with a woman's item because that is what we are doing at the machine most of the time. Nevertheless, keeping a pre-baby sewing to-do for Dad was something that was important to me. And I am pretty sure it's been appreciated, just as my sweet husband is appreciated!
H: When I first went back to work after having my daughter I had an awful time switching mind-sets from being a mummy to being an academic. It was much easier to go back the other way! I often wondered whether it was me or my profession that caused that - working in a more creative/artistic field, do you find that disconnect trying to work while having Roman sitting in the same room?
AMH: Hmm. I would agree that there are several fields of work where the transition from mothering to working is a bit smoother. And in fact, I imagine the same for just the work/life transition in general. But every career has its challenges and distractions. Having creative work can some days go hand in hand really well with mothering however, other times you really can't predict when and idea is going to drop into your lap and inspire hours of work to realize. So the biggest challenge for me is being able to harness the spark of creativity and hang on to it until the most opportune parenting time arrives. It requires SO much patience. But I have learned that knowing myself and my family really well helps. Don't expect the impossible out of yourself or anyone around you. We all have our schedules and our limits and the key is finding the workable overlap in all those variables where you can make some things happen.
H: With the introduction of the voiles into your range, do you find yourself designing differently than you did when it was only the quilting-weight cottons? Which comes first, the project or the fabric?
AMH: Most definitely. The volies just felt sooo sweet and soft, and I wanted the prints in the first voile range to reflect that sweetness. So the finer hand lent itself beautifuly to the finer prints. Anymore the fabric and the prints are being realized at the same time. My next collection will include home dec, quilting weight, voile and velveteen. Therefore while its all still one collection with a very large but cohesive color story, each of the different base cloths gets to take its own slightly different direction with color. For instance the voiles are very wearable colors due to the fact that many will end up being used as stand-alone apparel fabrics. The quilting cottons have a broader range of colors and are beautifully bright, etc.
H: So many women seem to pick up sewing again, or start for the first time, when there's a baby on the way - theirs or someone close to them. What is it about a baby that makes people want to get creative and express their love and excitement in such a material way - pun fully intended! :)
AMH: I think the intro to my book can answer that perfectly! I mention that the sewing I do for my babies is very much like my way of nurturing. And I am quite certain I am not alone there! And when we hear baby news, something just jumps inside the heart and makes us want to provide- not just for baby but also for the expectant mom. By design we want to care for others. Sewing just happens to be a wonderful way to do it!
Thank you so much for such thoughtful questions!
H: And thank you Anna Maria!
I got the booties done last night - just in time to take them down to Benjamin tomorrow. They're so cute and scrummy soft, I wonder if you could scale up the pattern to adult size? Certainly to Hazel's size wouldn't be too hard. So just to make it harder, I made them the first time out of knit fabrics to match some other things I'd made (more on that tomorrow) but they still turned out well. I suspect they'll be a bit big, although I've been told he's got very big feet for a newborn so it may work out just right!
The outer is this wonderful stripy jersey I picked up at Spotlight years ago and though I love it Hazel won't have a bar of it so it's nice to be able to use it on something. They're lined with cotton sherpa and have cotton quilt batting so they should be fairly warm for the coming winter. Oh who am I kidding, it's here already!
25 May, 2010
I have her previous book Seams to Me and it's a tough act to follow, but when Handmade Beginnings arrived I wasn't disappointed! Now I have to admit that the fact it was a book about sewing for babies didn't thrill me to bits as I've unfortunately done my dash in that regard (having babies that is!) so I wasn't sure how I'd feel about it all. But!
So here are some of my favourite projects. Let's start off with the baby stuff:
These booties are so adorable. In order to be a good blog tour host I had planned to make a pair for my new nephew and show them off here. I cut everything out on Sunday and ironed the outer fabric pieces before I started sewing. I took the ironed pieces and...well I put them somewhere and I haven't been able to find them! Literally 5 minutes later I was searching around and it's 2 days later and they still haven't shown up. And yes, I've checked the fridge and rubbish! After waiting a couple days to see if they turned up somewhere incredibly stupid I recut the pieces and started sewing this afternoon. So far so good and I'll get pics up as soon as I can. Anyone want to take bets on where I put those bits of fabric? Ummm yeah, so really cute booties and I love the way they're constructed, a bit out of the ordinary way of these things.
Everyone's been showing this jacket photo and it's not surprising considering how cute that wee boy is! I'd like to try making it for either my niece or nephew but need to do some measuring.
These pants are super-cute as well, I like the way you can mix and match fabrics to your heart's content or just go one colour each side and still get that flash of the other side on the cuffs.
One thing I really noticed when Hazel was born was how easily Mat got sidelined if we didn't pay attention to him being actively involved. Now I'm not saying he would have actually used a Dad Bag if I'd made one but I think chances are he might have (he does love his 'European Man's Carry-all') and it would have made him feel pretty pro while he was at it.
Now this is one of those neat pre- and post-baby items that I love
Lovely maternity dress or top (it does both). I like the clean lines and the fabric looks great. But you say you're not planning on being pregnant any time soon? Well look at this!
A non-maternity version (also good for bfing on the fly) and I'm looking forward to making it. Check out Meg's version over at Sew Liberated.
I love some of the little toys too, the stacking boxes are particularly cute
although the first thing Hazel asked when she saw that photo was if I could make her the dog and I had to tell her that the pattern wasn't in the book. There was some displeasure expressed at that.
There are also toys for the older children like this swaddled doll that comes with nappies
Although there are lovely quilts in this book (see other blogs on the tour for reviews of those) I actually like the simplicity of the little mini-quilt that comes with this project, particularly done up in those gorgeously lush fabrics.
The Daydreams mobile would look lovely in any room, or just the shade on its own
I also loved these embroidered letters, they lend themselves to so many uses and spots in the house
The detail on the B is wonderful
Thanks to the lovely people at Wiley Publishing (and they really are lovely!) I have a copy of Handmade Beginnings to give away. I'm going to limit it to New Zealand and Australian residents only for oh, a variety of reasons, but the rest of the world won't be left out as there's lots of copies to be had from earlier stops on the tour. US residents can enter into the sweeps for a really great prize: a Singer Confidence 7470 sewing machine, 5 yards of Anna Maria Horner fabric, and a copy of the book Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby. Between sweeps like that and Anthropologie, you guys really do make the rest of the world want to emmigrate sometimes.
If you'd like to enter to win a copy of the book all you need to do is leave a comment below and make sure you put your email into either the Disqus form or in the body of the comment. I will use the random entry picker commonly known as Hazel to choose the winner from a hat on Monday 31st at 3pm NZ time, when she gets back from créche. She's been asking me when she'll be able to do that again for ages!
For more reviews check out the other participants on the blog tour.
May 3 Craft
May 4 Indie Fixx
May 5 Sew Mama Sew
May 6 Pink Chalk Studio
May 10 Wise Craft
May 14 House on Hill Road
May 16 The Purl Bee
May 18 All Buttoned Up
May 19 Alabama Chanin Journal
May 20 Homemade by Jill
May 21 True Up
May 22 Oh, Fransson!
May 23 Prudent Baby
May 24 Sew Liberated
May 25 Handmade by Alissa
May 26 Hazelnuts
May 27 Petite Purls
24 May, 2010
19 May, 2010
So the pattern has a belt that runs on the outside around the back and then passes through holes on the front to tie on the inside, leaving the front to softly drape down. Except the holes were in totally the wrong place for me so I had to recut them, and even then I'm not thrilled with how it looks. Sure the drape is nice if you stand completely still, but disappears completely as soon as you move and when belted it moves around and bunches towards the back and the drape makes me look pneumatically busty - not a look I'm going for. Plus the folds obscure your waist from the front. I may just sew up the various holes and go with tying it over the front like this:
Having bitched about it thus far, I do have to say that the fit around the shoulders is nice (though of course a bit big) and the way the collar is constructed is really neat at the back shoulders (no photo sorry). It's easy to sew and perhaps in a lighter fabric the draping etc. would work. The bigger size may also be an issue in all this, not sure on that. Though having said that I'd venture to suggest that anyone over a B cup probably shouldn't be playing around with ruffles on the bust* anyways. And no matter what issues it might have, it's way way more stylish than the old red fleece jacket I usually get around in during the winter.
*My last use of ruffles in that area was in the 80s when I was a B cup. Some things just shouldn't be revisited for a whole variety of reasons!
18 May, 2010
See, it's even better than that. I'll show you again.
Even better I tell you!
Hazel started to show some fairly alarming acquisitive tendencies in regards to the loose fat quarters of Far Far away, telling me that this one was her favourite, no this one, and this one! So I ended up with four more just to make sure I could get a larger quilt out of it, and then she spotted this very cute little bag made up out of these cotton/linen fabrics:
The ballerinas are Kokka and the spots (two on the same fabric) are Trèfle. Needless to say I paid for this lot pretty quickly before she (or I!) could completely lose control - Hazel was pawing through more fat quarters as I wrote out the cheque - it was a close thing. Personally I was very very taken with the Saffron Craig red and orange fabrics she had there. Next quilt!
17 May, 2010
Crap photos due to the really overcast day we had yesterday, plus taking it quite late in the day
I was quite nervous about sewing with this fabric as it was much lighter and stretchier than anything I've done previously, but it went together super well and of course since it's wool it ironed beautifully! The top-stitching was a bit of a dud though, one of the threads I used with the twin needles is too dark and really shows up in contrast to the other one that blends in well. I may have to redo it so I feel happy about it. Or I may not, sometimes the irritation can't surmount the loathing I have of redoing something! Actually, looking at the photo it looks worse than it does in real life...
Here's Hazel modelling it:
She asked me to pick her some flowers for the photo and by sheer chance there were these little pink ones that matched her dancing skirt perfectly! I actually made that a month or so ago but never got around to photographing it. It's from Butterick 6660. Not the greatest pattern to work with (how could it be with a pattern number like that!) but the skirt is so cute and she loves it.
16 May, 2010
Days 5 and 6 were the leggings from Clothes for Girls
The weather and lighting weren't so great today so apologies for the yukky photos. These are very slim-fitting leggings, I had to go up a size and even then they're fairly tight. Nice fit though, and I love the little lace detail on the cuffs. It's pale pink ribbon over cream lace, the colours have blown out a bit unfortunately.
They're made from a heavy knit with good two-way stretch so I'm hoping they'll last out the winter! Turns out I didn't have any elastic for the waist so that still needs to be done.
14 May, 2010
And really, that's all I have to say :) I'm not even going to beat around the bush about it, I'm 42 and while I'm pretty ok with it I have to admit that finding out the new Prime Minister of Great Britain is only a year older than me was a bit sobering :) Anyways, I've eaten too much and I was up until 1:30 am this morning working on a lecture so I'm pretty much feeling my age at the moment. Is 8pm too old-lady to go to bed?
No I can't, I've got an hour of sewing to do and some reading of my new Ottobre magazines! I ordered them less than a couple weeks ago so I pretty pleased to find them in my mailbox this evening. They said up to 3 months, perhaps they say that so you feel really impressed when they come fast. On the other hand I ordered 3 issues of Stitch almost 6 weeks ago and nothing yet :( The nice customer service people said they'd send replacements after 6 weeks but darn it, I wanted them asap for all the crafty goodness! I think this would be the first time anything I've bought online has gone missing in the mail so I suppose I shouldn't be too down about it.
What I AM down about is the scroll function on my mouse suddenly disappearing. I had no idea how much I used it until it was gone. I don't know if it's my computer suddenly deciding not to recognise that bit of the software (it does that sometimes) or the mouse. I guess the mouse would be cheaper to replace...
13 May, 2010
Originally it looked like this:
I see that the original photo was taken way back in October last year so it's taken me awhile to get around to it! I was inspired by a clever cardigan refashion by Tiny Happy who told me it wasn't that hard and actually it wasn't! This is what I did:
- Cut off the sleeves and tried it on Hazel and pinned where I thought the shoulder seam/side seams would be.
- Unpicked the neck facing or whatever it was called. I managed to get the overlocker seam to unravel by pulling random threads (is there a trick to knowing which one to pull? I only ever find it by accident or when it's unravelling clothing I want to wear in which case it's very easy). This meant that, except in a couple places where I nicked it, the edges didn't unravel. I undid the facing along the back and on the front just past about where I thought Hazel's shoulder seam would be.
- Found a shirt pattern for a V-necked button-front shirt and matched the pattern pieces for the arm area and arm to the pinned positions as best I could. I do wish, however, that I'd had a good cardigan pattern to work from that was designed for knits as this one ended up being too big and the cardigan needs taking in.
- Cut the pieces out and resewed with an overlocker. After I tried it on Hazel I discovered it was fine along the neckline despite being too big around, so I went ahead and attached the neck facing and added the ruffle and buttons. I sewed the ruffle on with a twin needle to give it a bit of stretch along with the knit neckline.
Mat thinks the buttons are a bit OTT but the originals were so... late '90s know what I mean? The only problem I ran into was that the original facings overlapped more than I'd assumed they would so I had to shift the buttons over to the edge quite a bit so the right ruffle there wasn't covered over!
The flower was made from a tutorial at Pink Paper Peppermints that I found via a lovely little dress on My Sewing Circle. It's on a bit of felt attached to a pin. This is the one I prefer; but I had made a smaller one from the stripy fabric that Hazel likes best so she can have that one on it (too matchy for me!) and I'll have the photograph and the memories...
12 May, 2010
I love the fluffy raw edges on the ruffle but if they don't stop unravelling soon it'll drive us all mad with fine, floaty thread everywhere! Mat peered at them doubtfully and said "are the edges supposed to be like that?" Yes they are Man, yes they are.
11 May, 2010
Here she is doing her best curtsey princess-style
And her patented shake-yer-booty "bum dance", which this skirt does lend itself to!
I'm surprised how much I like this skirt because it's really not my style at all. I was apprensive choosing the fabrics, and had to constantly fight my tendency to tone it down in some way. I totally splashed out with the purple trim, so not me! :)) But seeing it on her, and seeing how much she loves it really brings home to me that I'm sewing for HER, not me. I need to suck it up sometimes and try and make something we can both enjoy, even if it means I'm out of my comfort zone sometimes.